Eleventh Seminar on Parliamentary
Procedure and Practice
The Eleventh Seminar of the Canadian Region
of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association was held in Charlottetown, Prince
Edward Island from October 26 - 29, 1986.
This year the theme of the seminar was
"Ethics in Politics". The first session dealt with some political and
legal aspects of conflict of interest. A former Premier of Prince Edward
Island, Angus MacLean, provided some thoughts on his experiences as a federal
and provincial cabinet minister. Albert Khelfa of the Quebec National Assembly
described the role of the jurisconsul, an official appointed by the Legislature
to whom members can turn for advice about conflict of interest questions.
The second session considered the question
of whether Canadian legislatures should require members who want to change
parties to resign from the legislature forcing them to face the electorate
again on behalf of their new party. Lloyd Crouse MP and John Carter of the
Newfoundland House of Assembly led off discussion on this item.
The final session dealt with lobbying and
the question of whether lobbyists should be registered. The leadoff speakers
were Dan McKenzie of the House of Commons and Dr. David Carter, Speaker of the
Alberta Legislative Assembly.
Some forty legislators from every Canadian
jurisdiction except British Columbia and the Northwest Territories attended the
seminar. There were also two special guests from the Isle of Man, John Nivison
and Robert Quayle.
The Conference was hosted by Speaker Edward
Clark of the PEI legislature. The informal atmosphere of the Island, the
generous hospitality of Speaker Clark, and the hard work of the organizing
committee co-ordinated by Doug Boylan made for a most successful seminar.
Seminar on United States Trade Policy
American trade policy is not developed by
any single agency or even by one branch of government. There is interaction
between the different agencies and between the administration and the
legislative branches in setting priorities, assessing various strategies and
enacting legislative measures. With trade negotiations between Canada and the
United States one of the most important items on the political agenda, the
Canadian Region of CPA sponsored a seminar on United States trade policy with
particular emphasis on Canadian-American economic relations.
While the federal government has
jurisdiction over international trade, provincial authorities are directly and
indirectly involved in many areas and must pay close attention to US trade
policy. Eleven provincial legislators from six provinces (Alberta, Ontario,
Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) attended the three day
seminar in Washington in September 1986.
Ambassador Allan Gotlieb and other members
of the Canadian Embassy briefed delegates on the relationship between bilateral
trade negotiations and other domestic and international forces in American
politics. He also discussed the way the free trade issue is perceived on the
two sides of the border.
Raymond Ahearn of the Congressional Research
Service provided an overview of the role of the Executive and Legislative
branches in formulating trade policy. Len Santos, Trade Counsel to the Senate
Finance Committee, and Joanna Shelton, who works for the Trade Subcommittee of
the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, provided insights into
the political dynamics of the issue in the American Congress.
William Cavitt, senior policy advisor in the
United States Department of Commerce, outlined existing trade legislation and
the various legal actions that can be taken under present laws. The role of the
State Department in setting policy was discussed by James Medas, Deputy
Assistant Secretary and some of his colleagues in the State Department.
A Washington Attorney, Lionel Olmer, pointed
out the importance of lobbying in the American political system and gave
delegates the benefit of his experience in both the public and private sector.
Two representatives of lobby groups, Larry Fox of the National Association of
Manufacturers and Robert McNeill of the Emergency Committee for American Trade
commented on the work their organizations are doing in this area.
One of the most interesting speakers was
William Merkin from the Office of the United States Trade Representative. As
one who works closely with the American negotiating team he was both
refreshingly candid and understandably evasive about how the United States is
approaching the negotiations.
Charles Ervin, Director of Operations for
the International Trade Commission, wound up the seminar with a description of
the role and responsibilities of this agency and the importance of its studies
on trade issues.
Arrangements for the seminar were organized
by Barbara Reynolds and Jo Oberstar of the Centre for Legislative Exchange.
New Speaker of the House of Commons
On September 30, 1986, John Fraser was
elected Speaker of the House of Commons in a secret ballot by all members.
John Fraser was born in Yokahoma, Japan in
1931. He was raised in Vancouver and attended the University of British
Columbia where he graduated with a law degree. First elected to the House of
Commons in 1972 for Vancouver South, Mr. Fraser served as Minister of the
Environment in the Clark Government of 1979. In 1984 Prime Minister Mulroney
named him Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. He resigned in 1985 following a
controversy over the sale of tainted canned tuna declared unfit for human
consumption by departmental inspectors.
Clerk of the Ontario Legislative Assembly
The new Clerk of the Ontario Legislative
Assembly is Claude DesRosiers. Mr. DesRosiers was formerly Principal Clerk of
the Committees and Private Legislation Directorate of the House of Commons. He
was an advisor to the Special Committee on Reform of the House which
recommended widespread reforms to the rules in 1985.
In congratulating the new Clerk on his
appointment the Government House Leader, Robert Nixon, noted that Mr.
DesRosiers had been a school trustee and an alderman in Quebec. "So he has
had to face some of the test and tribulations of the democratic process, which
most of us here believe is extremely healthy and an excellent background for
anyone in a position of responsibility in the democratic process. "
The new Clerk was chosen by a new process
whereby candidates were interviewed by the Committee on the Legislature whose
report was then transmitted to the Speaker who recommended to the
Lieutenant-Governor in Council the appointment of the successful candidate.